What is rewilding?
Definitions do vary but for us, rewilding is an evolving process of nature recovery that leads to restored ecosystem health, function and completeness.
Our view of rewilding is built around these principles:
- Providing the space and conditions to re-establish dynamic natural processes, so that they shape and govern Scotland’s land and seas.
- Recognising the critical role of all species – including missing native species – in sustaining functioning food webs and other ecological interactions.
- Nurturing nature recovery at different scales and accepting that approaches to rewilding can look and feel quite different, and still offer valuable benefits.
- Improving connectivity across fragmented habitats to give species more freedom to roam, supporting biodiversity recovery and climate resilience.
- Helping communities to prosper in a diverse, nature-based economy that works in tandem with ecological recovery.
Rewilding for nature
It wasn’t so long ago that wild forests, free-flowing rivers and rich wetlands stretched across much of Scotland, supporting a complex web of life. Today, despite its majestic vistas, Scotland's land is emptier and poorer, its wildlife diminished.
We have to recognise what has been lost, but more importantly, also imagine what could return. Nature is not just a collection of species, it’s a complex set of processes and interactions that keep ecosystems functioning: predation, scavenging, birth, death, decay and regeneration.
Rewilding works to revitalise these dynamic natural processes, driving the recovery of Scotland’s nature.
Rewilding for climate
Science tells us that the next ten years will be critical in addressing climate breakdown. A huge shift in our thinking is required to drive the change needed within this frighteningly narrow window.
Nature has ready-made solutions to a changing climate, if we choose to embrace it. Healthy native woodlands, peatlands, saltmarshes and seagrass meadows soak up huge amounts of CO2. When these living systems function as they should, they can also reduce the impacts of flooding, drought and wildfires.
In restoring ecosystem health and locking away carbon, rewilding is a vital tool in the fight against climate change.
Rewilding for people
A nature-rich Scotland is good for people. Beyond the joy and wonder it provides, which is essential for our wellbeing, nature is our life-support system. Clean air and water, a stable climate and fertile soils are fundamental to our own existence.
Rewilding also provides the opportunity for communities to grow and prosper by working with nature. It can create jobs in hospitality, food production, research and restoration, sustainable hunting, timber products and natural capital investment.
Rewilding also presents new opportunities for sustainable business, strong communities and public wellbeing.
"Standing back and seeing the Big Picture enables us to think about and work with nature, in a new way – moving beyond simply protecting the fragments and threads we have left. With a change in mindset, amazing things can happen.”
Peter Cairns, Executive Director
Rewilding in Scotland
The appetite for rewilding is growing across Scotland. In some places, whole landscapes are already being transformed with young forests sprinting up hillsides, drained peatlands rewetted and constrained rivers allowed to flow freely again. Wild animals, such as beavers, red squirrels and golden eagles are being reintroduced to roam unimpeded across a landscape shaped and governed by natural processes.
In towns and cities, passionate communities are working together to create more space for bats, bees and butterflies, in parks, gardens and public spaces.
The vision that unites rewilding at these different scales, is one of restoration and recovery – a commitment to transform our degraded ecosystems so that they work in all their colourful complexity.